SNCF receives the first 141R locomotives ordered to America in 1945

The New York Times - CNAH, 0068LM0017

The 141R locomotive is a steam locomotive built in the United States for the French railways and used in France from 1945 to 1974.

At the end of World War II, the deficit in locomotives and the inability of the French industry, which was in the process of reconstruction, to quickly deliver a large number of new machines, led to various orders from American and Canadian manufacturers.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works, in the urgency of the time, designed the plans for these machines, modifying an existing locomotive that had been in use in the United States for several years, the USRA Light Mikado. This technological choice, which challenged the conservatism of the French railway industry at the time, proved to be a wise one.

As a result, an order for 700 locomotives for all services was placed in February 1945 for the first batch, known as the 141 R 1 to 700 series. Once financing became possible, the second batch, consisting of locomotives numbered 141 R 701 to 1340, was ordered from the same American manufacturers, with assistance from Canadian builders. These machines were primarily designed to be fired with oil fuel rather than coal, as was common with previous locomotives. The 604 oil-fired locomotives provided better service and were therefore more heavily utilized than the coal-fired ones. The use of oil fuel allowed for coal savings, even though it represented a significant change in many depots. Their financing was carried out under the terms of the Lend-Lease Act of 1941.

The New York Times – CNAH, 0068LM0017

The end of the 141 R locomotives

On October 19, 1975, the last 141 R locomotive still in service at the SNCF, the 141 R 1187 from the Vénissieux depot, operated a special round trip train between Lyon and Veynes. Nine locomotives from this iconic series are now preserved in France (including five protected as historical monuments) and in Switzerland.

The New York Times – CNAH, 0068LM0017/001